Pre-Finale Debate: What’s Your Opinion?

The Voice - Season 4

We now know our three finalists for season four of The Voice – Danielle Bradbery, The Swon Brothers and Michelle Chamuel – and that’s raised a number of interesting points for debate before we head into next Monday’s final performance show. What do you think, Voice fans? Here’s my take (with a disclaimer that I’m critiquing the show and not coming out for/against any particular artist).

I’m disappointed that the finals are not only once again slanted in favor of one coach, but that this season they’re also leaning toward one genre of music. In my opinion, that’s made the show less interesting, because I enjoy The Voice‘s musical diversity and I also like it when all the coaches are involved (which means therefore all the fans are involved).

I’ve also long been against the strong hold that iTunes has on the results. Last season, it was easy to predict that Cassadee Pope would win because of her iTunes charting. This season, it’s been the same deal (with the exception being that Amber Carrington charted on Tuesday but didn’t advance). While NBC has done a smart thing in limiting iTunes downloads to one this season (as opposed to 10 before), it still hasn’t fixed the issue. Holly Tucker made a point of telling people to buy their favorite artist’s single because she knew she was being eliminated based on iTunes. Having the results determined so heavily by one method has never felt right to me.

Having said that, I find it hard to get too angry at the show itself, because it really is in the hands of America. Fans know what the rules are by now and we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves if we don’t like the results. I wonder how many of the people complaining about Blake’s team taking over the finals again voted for the artists they did like. Or how many people will vote for Michelle just because she’s the one non-country singer in the final. (Weirder things have happened: it’s strongly suspected that the results of season two were affected by the feud between Adam and Christina.)

So what do you think, readers? Do you want to see any changes in the Voice rulebook? Or do you think the burden is on us as fans? Or is it “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Sound off in the comments.

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7 thoughts on “Pre-Finale Debate: What’s Your Opinion?

  1. If you put genre and coach aside, there actually is great diversity in the final 3. There’s the first duo, the first kid (or anybody with no prior experience, for that matter), and our usual beloved voice who doesn’t look the part. It’s just that country songs are so straight forward and lacking in showiness that hearing one after another feels a little, well, boring. IMO, Danielle and Michelle are noticeably more gifted vocally than anyone else except Sasha. Danielle, especially, stands out in the group numbers (like last night’s).

    I don’t think changing iTunes would change anything. Country fans seem very loyal to their music, and I suspect that with Idol crashing and burning this year, there may have been a number of AI fans – who voted for 5 WGWG winners in a row – jumping ship and supporting AI-friendly artists on The Voice.

    I think the diversity has been hurt by Cee Lo’s absence. He attracted a lot of gifted, but oddball, R&B and rock singers and he consistently had success with them. When he showed up in the studio that one episode to assist Shakira, you could tell he knew what he was doing. Shakira eliminated all of her Latina artists early on, which I was disappointed with. (My niece had “Antes de las seis” stuck in her head for weeks after that battle.) I also always looked forward to Cee Lo’s and Christina’s crazy outfits in the live shows. The panel has been such a straight-shooting set that it’s lost some of the zany fun, this season.

    Blake’s success is because, of all the coaches, he’s the one who focuses on how well the artist connects with the audience, as opposed to what the artist can show. Once a connection is made, the battle’s pretty much over.

    1. It definitely does feel boring. I’ve talked to a lot of fans and some of my fellow critics, and the problem is that genre and coach are factors you can’t quite put aside. I’m hearing a lot of people say this finale doesn’t excite them like the past three, and honestly I can see where they are coming from.

      However, I had a really cool interview with Carson last night (hopefully TODAY will post it later!) where he said something I also agree with, and it’s that America will always have reason to complain somehow. If the Latina artists had advanced, you’d have someone complain they should all sing in English. When Moses was on, people complained about rap not being music. Judith got a lot of flak this season for her Michael Jackson connection with people saying she shouldn’t be on the show. As a fan of the show and the diversity of music, I love it when The Voice does something completely wild, but I don’t know if (possibly because AI came first) general audiences have a specific idea of what they think the show should be, require, etc.

      1. Looking forward to the Carson interview. He made an interesting comment a few weeks ago about the coaches being too nice in their critiques, and that Christina’s style of feedback—which he said she got a lot of crap for—was needed. True critique may be a turn off for those who can’t stomach it, but I think he had a point.

        I think a bigger concern for NBC is the alarming drop-off in young viewers. The music has lost a lot of edge. Interestingly, last night’s episode of AGT had three opera singers. The Voice needs more than the basic set of pop, R&B, country, and indie.

      2. I’ll tweet/FB a link if/when it goes up. I sent it to TODAY last night but no word on if they’ll publish.

        But actually, I was talking about that with someone backstage last night. The coaches’ comments have started to get generic. I’m not saying they shouldn’t tell all the artists they’re great if they are all great, but they’re not even really giving specifics as to what exactly was so great. I think we need more of a balanced dialogue. Not someone who’s going to be critical for the sake of just being critical, but more than just “You were great.”

        Did it seem to you like the song choices have been less diverse this season? Like, even last season Blake had Terry and so he had all sorts of classic rock, but then Terry also did “Over,” which was country, etc. But Team Blake this season, maybe it’s Blake’s (publicly stated repeatedly) desire to win with a country artist, but they’ve pretty much stuck with country songs. Whereas at least Amber Carrington, while starting as a country artist, has done Maroon 5 and Skid Row and Rihanna. Sasha did a lot of classic tunes, although she did spice it up with the David Guetta and Emeli Sande. I don’t know, maybe it just seems that way right now.

      3. Actually, I’ve kind of enjoyed getting to know country music in greater depth. It’s just too bad that it’s all been of similar sound and feel. I miss Gracia Harrison’s fun songs.

        Of all the coaches, Blake has been the one who hasn’t been relying on the standard repertoire that was established during the first two seasons. My constant complaint has been the number of recycled songs from the other coaches. Can we get some different Whitney Houston than the same Dolly Parton cover over and over?

        I very much appreciated Amber’s diversity. Partly, she had to because she would have been totally lost in the crowd if she sang country. But she also did a great job with Patsy Cline, so yeah, if she was going to do country, it had to be something that would resonate. She lasted a good long time, so good for her. I hope she can embark on a cross-over career.

        As for the critiques, my impression was that specific details pretty much rested with Christina. She liked to get into the minutiae (which is why she always ran over her allotted time), such as pitch, range, facial expression, costuming, stage movement, etc., etc. But yeah, she had a hard time hiding her true feelings if she felt a singer didn’t have what it takes to keep advancing.

      4. I really should ask someone what the process for getting songs cleared is. I’m pretty sure legal has a lot to do with the repetition. But it sucks for the current artist, because I can’t help but compare them to the artist(s) who’ve done it before.

        Now that you mention it, though, I’m trying to think of the number of honestly critical comments I have heard from the coaches this season and I’m not getting many. I know there was Garrett Gardner’s Backstreet Boys cover, and then the whole snafu over Kris Thomas’s version of “Adorn” (which as much as I love Shakira, she blew totally out of proportion, IMO). But I’m not thinking of much more. Are there others? Or was it just a really light season critique wise?

      5. I wonder if Shakira’s reaction might have dampened the run of “constructive criticism.” Both Garrett and Kris were her boys. Attacking a mother’s babies is risky. It looked like Shakira missed the signals that this wasn’t a good song for Kris because his personal frame of mind was exactly the opposite of the song’s. Cee Lo tried to focus him on singing to one individual in the audience, but he didn’t sound optimistic on Kris’ chances of standing out.

        The only other minor comment I remember was very early, when Adam wished that Colton would sing more and not be such a junior partner to Zach. They seemed to take that advice to heart because every song since has been more of a true duet.

        I didn’t see the semifinals broadcast. Were there any critical comments about Amber’s “Fireworks”? I understand that she was under the weather and sounded quite a ways off-pitch.

        Interesting that Judith said that she wished she would have gotten more critical comments than she got. Experienced singers like her know how much hard work and criticism it takes to succeed. I don’t think she ever got anything other than she’s a frontrunner (which she knew she wasn’t).

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